Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy School Counseling Anniversary!

It was a typical day in the life of an Elementary School Counselor with classes, individual counseling, behavior group check in, a parent conference, teacher consultations, a DCF call, giving a KBIT, and finally facilitating a Problem Solving Team meeting. The day came and went and I didn't even realize it. Until today. I missed my School Counseling Anniversary.  Happy School Counseling Anniversary to me!  Twenty-eight years ago this past Thursday marked the beginning of my adventure into a profession I dearly love!

A look back...
In the last 28 years I have worked at 4 schools, had 8 principals, 8 assistant principals, 6 interns, 14 School Psychologists, 9 School Social Workers, 6 district level Guidance Specialists, and 4 School District Superintendents.  For 2 years I was split between 2 schools as a solo act and for 3 years I was split between 2  large schools who each also had a full time counselor. Over the years,  I have been in 12 different offices from a "closet" next to the bathroom, to sharing a classroom with the speech clinician to doing a 3 way share of a portable with my School Counselor partner and the Parent Resource Center. I have been in a "standard office," had my own classroom with and without a bathroom, and now my own portable.  When I began the only phone was in the main office, there were no computers, and we still used mimeograph machines, filmstrip projectors, and typewriters. I was young, inexperienced and learned a lot by trial and error, but mostly errors.  I went to every training, workshop and conference that was offered, joined my local and state School Counselor Association and the American School Counseling Association and eventually presented  3 times at the state level. I've worked with children from pre-K to 6th grade, gen ed, gifted, mentally handicapped, and severely emotionally disturbed. During this time I also raised 2 children and achieved National Board Certification.  Over the years, I  have been blessed with a strong support system of Counselor Colleagues and a faculty and administration who have supported me in all my attempts to build the School Counseling program at my schools.

Looking Forward
You may be thinking at 28 years I am looking at retiring soon, but nothing could be further from the truth!  I have a good 8-10+ years left and there is still so much I want to accomplish. In the last 2 years, I started a county level PLC with my Counselor Colleagues, launched my school counseling webpage, joined Pinterest, got an iPad and started learning about and creating Google Forms.  This past summer, I attended ASCA  for the first time, started this blog, agreed to serve as a mentor for a new Counselor, joined Twitter and my local School Counseling Association as the New Counselor Coordinator.

You are only as old as you feel (or act)
Recently, I was talking with a friend of mine who made an observation about the way a group of educators had arranged themselves at a meeting we attended.  Her words really stuck with me. She stated the new educators sat near the front of the meeting room, the "up and comers" sat front and center, and the "old school educators" sat together as far back as possible, complaining about how things have changed.  I may be celebrating my 28th anniversary as a School Counselor, but I don't EVER want to be associated with  "old" or "old school" in my thinking.  Education and the School Counseling profession look very different than it did 28 years ago, than it did 3 years ago, and that can be scary. But I don't want to be too scared to change what I have always done, or even throw out some things I have always loved to do. I want to keep growing and learning and sharing.  I want to stretch and challenge myself to be a part of new things, even those outside my comfort zone. I want to integrate more technology in my lessons, learn to analyze and disaggregate data, to present at ASCA and become more involved in my state school counseling association advocating for the role of School Counselors at all levels.

I am inspired by what I see being done on the pages of the Elementary School Counselor Exchange, TPT, Pinterest,Twitter, all the great School Counseling blogs out there, and the numerous websites that offer ideas, lessons, and videos.  There are so many great new things to choose from to meet the needs of our students and their families.   How could even think it might be time to retire?

So, Happy Anniversary to me...and many more!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Freebie Resource Poster

Nicole and Danny
 While at my state conference in October I not only met many  wonderful School Counselors, but  I was lucky enough to  meet the future of School Counseling! Lining the hallways of  the convention center were enthusiastic graduate students working towards their School Counseling degree.  These future Counselors had prepared poster presentations on some excellent topics from cutting to managing classroom behaviors to legal issues and more.  All were very knowledgeable and eager to share about their topic  One pair, Nicole Setticase and Danny Keller, students in the Nova Southeastern University Masters program, created a poster that stood out to me.  It's simplicity and professionalism provides an awesome tool for School Counselors to reference when making decisions on several crucial issues and includes space for adding phone numbers and websites specific to your locale.  Nicole and Danny have given me permission to share their poster here with you.  Enjoy the fine work of these future School Counselors.  We will be lucky to add them to our profession.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top 5 Posts of 2014

Being a relatively new blogger,  (I have only been blogging for 6 months) I am still learning what to do and when to do it.  I see my fellow, more experienced, bloggers reviewing their top posts for the year, so in true elementary school fashion, "monkey see, monkey do!"  If you missed these posts, I hope you will find something here of value if not now (since the top 3 have to do with starting the school year) perhaps in the future.

#1  New Counselors: 12 Tips and Resources for Starting a New School (Year)
Here you will find 12 tips and resources for starting a new school or a new school year. Whether you are a counselor with your first job, or someone with experience starting a new school, I hope you will find these ideas and resources helpful in getting your School Counseling program off to a great start!

#2 Meet the Counselor:  How to Make a Counselor Catcher
This year I was interested in doing something different with my fifth graders for their "Meet the Counselor" lesson. So I thought I would let them tell each other what a School Counselor does, but it had to be in a fun and engaging way. Since only 4 of my 72 fifth graders were new this year and all of those had come from local schools with School Counselors, the "Counselor Catcher" was born.

#3  Sharing Red Ribbon Week Lessons
Between Red Ribbon Week and Bully Prevention, I think October is one of the busiest months for School Counselors.  Each of these topics are important in the healthy physical and emotional development of our students.  But both in one month?  It is hard to give either topic the spotlight it deserves. The planning and implementing of lessons, programs and activities is time consuming. So, I thought I would share five of my favorite Red Ribbon Week lessons.

#4  Google Forms:  Collect  and Analyze Data to Advocate for your School Counseling Program
The Google Form here is a compilation of duties and responsibilities shared with me by my School Counselor colleagues from the Facebook group The Elementary School Counselor Exchange. The variety of  unrelated duties represented in this form have been assigned to School Counselors leaving them, in many cases, without the time or support to pursue relevant school and student needs.   It is my hope that School Counselors can use this form to demonstrate, with data and visual representations of graphs, how their time is being spent, both in an effort to create change and to show progress towards that change.
If you are interested in learning more about creating your own Google Forms check out my post with Step by Step Instructions for Creating Google Forms.

#5  8 Steps to Developing, Implementing, and Supporting a Student Behavior Plan
My intern and School Counselor "mentee" tell me,  "We did NOT learn this in graduate school!" And neither did I.  I learned from old fashioned trial and error and many times it was not pretty!  While I do not claim to have all the answers, I do have some experience in this area and have been designing and implementing plans with my teachers for more than 10 years and I am happy to share what I have learned.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has visited my site and shared comments of encouragement and thanks! I have enjoyed sharing with you all.  If there are topics or ideas you would like to see a post about, leave me a comment with your suggestion or idea.  I am looking forward to sharing more in 2015!